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When Gun-Owner Cards Are Revoked, Sheriff's Police Go After Weapons

(CBS) – More than 5,000 Cook County residents are illegally holding guns after their firearms ownership cards were revoked.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart is making it his business to take those guns away.

CBS 2 had the first TV cameras ever to follow the gun; reporter Derrick Blakley went along.

It starts with a knock on the door and ends with recovery of a .22-caliber rifle and plenty of ammo. Both belong to a Des Plaines man who's already in jail for illegally carrying a gun.

That's what the sheriff's gun team does each day.

"They're surprised when we show up to the door to say, 'Hey, we're her to collect this card and where are the weapons you have?'" Sgt. Chris Imhof says.

More than 5,000 county residents have had their firearm owner identification (FOID) cards cancelled. They've been charged with a felony or proclaimed mentally unfit.

Legally, they're supposed to turn in the cards and their guns. Not many do.

"They find you guilty in a criminal offense or they found you seriously mentally ill. No one was taking your guns away, which is really at the heart of it," Dart says.

An ex-girlfriend placed an order of protection against a Lincolnwood man, his FOID card revoked. He tells cops he's sold his three guns but has no paperwork.

The sheriff's unit recovered more than 200 guns this year, many from mentally ill owners -- a priority too often overlooked, with tragic results.

"How could tragedies not occur when people clearly suffering mental illness, major criminal conditions, are sitting on arsenals of guns?" Dart says.

After the guns are confiscated, owners can transfer them to others with valid FOID cards. Or, the sheriff's office will hold the weapons, to let the owners get their cards re-instated.

But Dart says the system is broken, because too many people are holding guns who legally shouldn't have them.

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